When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, Kyle Dean was doing a job he loved as a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) with the Early Intervention In Psychosis Service in the Derby City and South County Community Team.
The world was turned upside down and people were urged to work from home and in the community, home visits were restricted, and many community services went digital. With his came a call for redeployment across the NHS and that was the same in Derbyshire Healthcare.
Services were certainly changed but we still needed to provide care to the most unwell patients who were being cared for on our inpatient wards.
Kyle, who had previously worked on inpatient areas, responded to the call for redeployment volunteers and went back to his old ward – Ward 36 on the Radbourne Unit. Things had changed though; there were lots of new staff, many staff were self-isolating at home and everyone was dealing with the changing (sometimes daily) guidance that was coming from the centre and the need to wear PPE, along with the other restrictions involved in managing the pandemic.
Ward 36 was designated an admissions ward as one of the measures to make the management of COVID positive patients more flexible, so an acute mixed ward with male and female patients. This couldn’t have been managed without the support of the Trust’s senior management and the willingness of the staff to work flexibly and at a fast-changing pace.
Because Kyle had redeployed so quickly, he was still getting calls from community clients, family members and even other professionals. He was supported to use one of his days in the week to dedicate that time to those clients and the covering nurse, and that made their treatment much improved due to the continuity of contact and support. The Trust also supported Kyle to continue to work his community role hours as he needed to fit work in with childcare.
All this supported Kyle in his redeployment and meant that despite the challenges he really enjoyed the move back to an inpatient setting. However, this period came to an end in July 2020, when it looked like things might be levelling off, and Kyle returned to his substantive post.
He takes up the story:
“I loved my team and patients in the community but there is something energising about managing an inpatient service. People come into hospital very unwell, we care for them and then they get better and go home back to their families. That is immensely rewarding. The team on Ward 36 are enthusiastic, dynamic, motivated, and talented. So, when the Ward Manager left for another role, I was keen to apply.
“The team themselves gave me the confidence to think that I could lead them, and I was delighted to be successful in my application. I started early as we went into the second wave and started my substantive role in December 2020; so, I’ve been doing it for a year now.
"I love my role; I love leading and developing the team and I love seeing people go home after a period of severe illness almost back to themselves. In June last year the ward became all male, although we obviously still have a mixed staff group.
"Whilst no-one would ever say they wanted a pandemic there have been good things that have come out of it for me. The most important was the birth of my second daughter; the other thing is the opportunities I have been given to grow my career, with a great blend of support and encouragement from the Trust and my manager. I’m loving my job and part of my role now is act as an ambassador for the Trust and to continue to recruit and retain the great nursing staff that we need now and in the future.”
Some might think only of clinical or patient-facing careers when they consider the NHS. But there are many colleagues within Derbyshire Healthcare who have built a successful career in an administrative role. The administrative teams are a vital part of our organisation, working to support clinical colleagues and playing a key role in our aim to make a positive difference to patient care.
One such colleague is Roksana Pszczolkowska. Originally from Poland, Roksana came to the UK to take a degree in International Relations at the University of Derby. Having graduated, like many young people she found that a lot of roles on offer were agency work. It was through such a contract role that she joined Derbyshire Healthcare.
She worked in temporary roles in a number of departments, before a manager suggested she apply for a permanent Band 2 role that had come up in Children’s Services.
She said: “I was so pleased to have a permanent job, and although not directly related to my degree subject, administration suits my skills as it requires someone to be organised and to have a good eye for detail.”
When her team needed more admin support, Roksana was encouraged to apply for the band 3 role that became available, which also meant that she started in a supervisory role.
She was then approached to apply for a Band 5 secondment role on the IT team, which she said she found really interesting as it developed her knowledge of SystmOne. The role was not one she would have considered until a colleague suggested to her how well she would do at it. When the secondment came to an end, she applied for and was appointed to her current Band 6 role on the Substance Misuse team, where she is a Performance Officer and Data Analyst. This means she looks at the data for the Substance Misuse team and how the team is performing against certain criteria.
Roksana commented: “There are lots of opportunities within the Trust. You have the chance to work with other people and get to know them, and try some different things that make use of your skills. I feel that I have done really well to have achieved what I have here, and I am very proud of myself for developing my skills and progressing within the service, working on different projects.”
Roksana’s initial qualifications were taken in Poland, which means that while she is educated to degree level, she doesn’t have GCSEs in maths and English. She was able to complete Functional Skills qualifications, an equivalent level to GSCE, through the Trust, to tick those boxes for any future applications.
She has also thrown herself into other activities and opportunities available through the Trust. She has recently finished the Aspiring To Be leadership programme, is a member of the Trust Staff Forum, which meets regularly to discuss issues affecting colleagues, and is also a Wellbeing Champion, which means she is on hand to support individual colleagues with wellbeing issues, under the guidance of the Trust Wellbeing team.
She has also taken the opportunity, when in a new role, to shadow a more experienced colleague to help her understand what she needs to do and how the team is structured.
She said: “I was always asking questions – which meant that people started suggesting that I might like to take on secondments to bring me new skills. These are all ways where you can meet other people within the Trust and see what they do. I am always keen to get involved and see how I can improve. Even if you are not a clinical colleague here, you can still do meaningful relevant training and better your skills.”
Nicole Ellis has been working at Derbyshire Healthcare since September 2021.
Nicole spent just over 28 years working in financial services, latterly as a self-employed mortgage adviser. But when COVID-19 hit in 2020, she found her business grinding to a halt. COVID restrictions meant that people were not able to view properties and she could not meet clients.
She said: “I felt helpless and I wanted to do something to support people." So she found a role working as part of the COVID vaccination programme in Sheffield, which she loved.
“I met lots of nurses and other clinicians and they were amazing people. I just fell in love with the NHS. Coming from a corporate background, where it is all about sales and targets, it was such a change. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.”
Nicole realised that, even though she could not take on a clinical role, she had a lot of transferrable skills that would be as useful within the NHS as they were in the private sector, especially in relation to productivity and management.
She commented: “One aspect of my experience I have found useful is the notion of questioning how things are done and why they are done that way, which can be really productive.”
Looking for a more permanent role than what was offered at the vaccination centre, Nicole came to Derbyshire Healthcare and was appointed to as employment specialist on the IPS (Individual Placement and Support) team. She said: “I thought, if I am going to take a risk it needs to be now. The team aims to help people who have had a mental illness and who feel that they are ready to go back into employment. So my people skills and knowledge about relationship building are invaluable.
“I have been meeting people and finding out about them and what their goals are. We are helping people to move on with their lives and get them back into work – it’s a really positive process. I really feel that I am using my experience and knowledge to help others move forward, which is a great feeling.”